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Partworks

Besides the Commonwealth Games, Doctor Who and pathological pop parodists Texas, one phenomenon for which I cannot dredge up enthusiasm is the "new-year, new-you" train of thought.

Granted, if nothing else it serves as an annual service and MOT for my bile duct, which I'm proud to report has been given the all-clear until January 4, 2015. That said, it would be heartening if we could collectively grow up a little.

It's both saddening and angering that the corporate world milks millions of pounds every January from picking the scabs of aspiration on the skin of our egos. The chief culprits hawk either home refurbishments or weight-loss diets, in both cases the subtext being simple: a new kitchen will elevate your merely passable cooking to fine dining; losing weight will rekindle your moribund love life.

Less offensive, to my eyes at least, is the flood of partworks which hits the shelves of newsagents at the start of every year promising to educate, enlighten and energise your ossified, post-festive grey matter. These bulletins from Planet Fact typically comprise a colour magazine packaged with a relevant figurine/poster/ring binder (falsely described as "free"), their cover price rocketing by 1000% after one or two issues.

For those of us in no position to swap work for full-time education, partworks help slake our thirst for mental stimulation, especially so if one's area of interest is, say, Spider-Man or fighting machines from bygone conflicts.

That's the problem, though - I've never found a partwork that fully scratches my information itch. Superhero chessmen? Yawn. The M3 half-track? Meh!

This, then, is an open-hearted plea to publishers everywhere - research and issue any of the following and you will have won the lifelong loyalty and support of someone with a hint of a whisper of a modicum of power to influence the tastes of a nation (ha!):

l Who Or Whom? A Guide To Unfathomable Grammatical Truths (first week comes with a free 16-page pocket book, When To Use 'Less Than' and 'Fewer');

l The Golfer's Friend, or How To Achieve A Consistent Swing And Not Think About Rock Music When Playing A Critical Shotw;

l Money For Nothing - Alchemy That Really Works, and the vaguely related Build Your Own Full-size VW Golf R32 (For A Fraction of the Price) And Run It on Tapwater.

I mean, is it asking too much?

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Arts and Entertainment

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